Ranking 10 Group of Five teams with best College Football Playoff hopes

This season, as the expanded College Football Playoff guarantees a spot for the highest-ranked Group of Five champion, let's rank the 10 G5 teams with the best shot.
With a guaranteed spot in the College Football Playoff rankings, these Group of Five teams have the best shot at the postseason in 2024.
With a guaranteed spot in the College Football Playoff rankings, these Group of Five teams have the best shot at the postseason in 2024. / Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more intriguing aspects of college football's expanded playoff will be the guarantee of at least one team from the Group of Five, the highest-ranked conference champion of which will receive a spot in the 12-team rankings and have a shot at the national championship.

Under the old College Football Playoff model, the likelihood of seeing a Group of Five team in the semifinal was something less than a pipe dream.

More: Predicting College Football's Conference Champions in 2024

But with this new rule in place, the title races in the Mountain West, AAC, Sun Belt, MAC, and Conference USA will be all the more interesting as the season wears on, with much more at stake than usual.

With the help of ESPN's 134-team college football rankings, let's project which 10 Group of Five teams have the greatest chance of making the expanded playoff in 2024.

Ranking 10 Group of Five College Football Playoff Contenders in 2024

10. Miami (OH)

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

3.0% chance. After winning 11 games and the MAC title a year ago, the RedHawks bring back just enough talent to do it again. Despite losses like wideout Greg Larvadain and back Rashad Amos, the offense still boasts great receiver skill and good enough protection to keep the unit intact. Linebacker is a position of strength, but there are spots to patch up in the secondary.

9. Texas State

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3.2% chance. The Bobcats finished second place in the Sun Belt West a year ago behind Troy and beat Rice in the First Responder Bowl, and come into 2024 as potential favorites in the league. Behind a strong rushing attack that returns a ton of experience and a burgeoning secondary unit, Texas State also scored transfer quarterback Jordan McCloud in a major coup.

8. Troy

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

5.1% chance. On the face of it, the Trojans are in rebuilding mode after losing their head coach, quarterback, lead rusher, top receivers, and most of their defensive production. Gerad Parker steps in as coach with experience building offenses, aided by two new coordinators, and facing a pair of early road games at Memphis and Iowa that could derail, or boost, Troy's long-term chances this year.

7. Fresno State

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5.9% chance. A year ago, the Bulldogs won 9 games including two against Power Five competition, Purdue and Arizona State, and both of those on the road. While the defense took a step back last fall, Fresno State's offense returns eight starters and projects to run the ball well with Malik Sherrod behind a very solid front line. Current odds say this is the second-best team in the Mountain West.

6. Tulane

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6.2% chance. While the reigning AAC champions lost their head coach and starting quarterback, Jon Sumrall comes in from Troy to lead the program, and he brings on Oregon transfer quarterback Ty Thompson to steer the offense. Other contenders in the Group of Five will challenge Tulane for the auto bid, but the Green Wave should stay in the AAC title race all year.

5. Appalachian State

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

7.0% chance. The Mountaineers face a harder schedule against a deeper Sun Belt rotation, but return key personnel on offense to make a run. That includes Joey Aguilar at quarterback, a record-holder in several categories with added mobility, and he has legit skill at back and receiver to make the offense go. Defensively, App State has young but promising pieces around the line to wear out opposing blockers.

4. Memphis

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

7.9% chance. There's a ton to like about the Tigers' returning offense, loaded behind quarterback Seth Henigan, college football's fourth-most productive passer a year ago, and he gets back major receiving talent like Roc Taylor and Demeer Blankumsee. But Memphis' AAC title hopes could hinge on a defense that regressed last year, particularly against the pass.

3. Liberty

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

9.6% chance. The return of quarterback Kaidon Salter alone puts the Flames potentially in the driver's seat for the Group of Five's spot in the expanded College Football Playoff. Salter scored 43 all-purpose touchdowns a year ago and had a better rushing output than many running backs, amassing 1,064 yards.


Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

15.6% chance. Questions remain around the permanent offensive line rotation, and there's a big change at quarterback after Frank Harris' departure, although Owen McCown brings some experience. UTSA's backfield will stabilize the offense with returning producers like Kevorian Barnes, and the defense boasts credible skill in the back seven alignment.

1. Boise State

Chris Day/The Commercial Appeal / USA

16.4% chance. Spencer Danielson earned the head coaching role after a stellar showing as interim, leading the Broncos to a Mountain West title. He returns an expected 18 starters to the field this year, including tailback Ashton Jeanty, the league's top rusher and one of college football's best. Malachi Nelson steps in at quarterback after transferring from USC, but the defense was average against the run a year ago and it struggled in the secondary. A game against Oregon early will be huge.


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James Parks


James Parks is the founder and publisher of College Football HQ. He previously covered football for 247Sports and CBS Interactive. College Football HQ joined the Sports Illustrated Fannation Network in 2022.